The workcover case manager profession is littered with, hum, “conflict” over many things, even the smallest of “things” right from the start, when a worker lodges a claim for a work injury. Yet, sadly, many case managers do not know how to properly diffuse a, ahum, “tense situation”, on the contrary; from our injured and our injured readers experience, most will push our buttons, if not over the edge and have us suffer an acute and massive nervous breakdown over the phone!
Tips for case managers managing “angry” injured workers
More often than not they’ll act like irrational primates!
Things that INFURIATES injured workers
- a [very] rude and unempowered case manager [or any other workcovrr insurer staffer]
- Missing deadlines
- Being put on hold for yonks
- Phone lines being busy for yonks, calls not returned
- Promises which aren’t kept
- Faulty, misleading “letters”
- Pushy , “harassing” case manager
For those workcover case managers and workcover insurance staffers/companies who may be reading this, before you get pissed off at us, remember that injured workers are, in fact, walking billboards, walking ads for YOUR insurance company, and for the case managers that work for you. We are your injured advocates for your work and testimonials to your terrible shortcomings. So, when someone complains (like we are doing) you should actually be grateful because we are giving you a chance to improve the “situation”.
Let’s take a look at some steps you- the case manager- could use to deal with the “angry” injured worker
1. Stay calm, please
Workcover case managers must train themselves to stay calm. Take slow and deep breaths. Please do not get emotional as well!
Keep quiet! And listen, please. If you keep on interrupting , the injured worker will assume you are not listening (again) and often feel the need to start over again, angrier this time. Patiently listen to the whole story and please be attentive.
When the injured worker is clearly finished explaining the situation, you can begin to respond.
And when it is your turn to speak, begin with agreement, please. Even if this requires really shovelling to uncover some common ground, do so. For example, let’s assume an injured worker has told you a long story with many (often valid!) accusations about the insurance staff or Independent doctors that are -in your opinion- not true. Obviously, you are not going to agree with “false” statements, but you could at least be polite and perhaps reply with: “I’m glad you brought this to my attention. I will look into this matter.”
Using responses such as “I hear what you are saying” or “I understand” can also greatly help to calm us, so called angry injured callers. Remember that we usually have no bloody idea what is going on or why certain (bizarre) decisions are being made on our workcover claims! Please let us vent a bit then calmly and politely explain the situation.
2. Listen and please be patient
Try not to take the demonstration of the injured worker’s understandable anger personally. A majority of the time abused, harassed, ill-treated, stressed injured sods do not know how to express “displeasure” or “dissatisfaction” pleasantly. [Tip if YOU are the angry injured worker say in a sincere, pleasant tone:“I know it may not be your fault, but I’m very upset about this situation and I hope you can help me.”]
Please, case manager, do not attempt to interrupt angry callers, or worse threatening them with “police” or just hanging up on them! Nothing more enrages us!
Be patient and let us, injured sods, at least finish talking – do not talk over us. We often need to vent our sheer frustrations dealing with our “claim” and the manner in which it is being dealt with. After being able to vent a bit we may be able to relax a little and work with you to resolve our ongoing, unending issue. Please, explain to us what is going on, and what options we may have for moving forward.
Oh and please never ever say: “There’s nothing I can do.” That statement is like petrol on a camp fire. Although it may range from simply gathering facts to solving the actual problem, there’s ALWAYS something you can do.
3. Please, remain Professional at all times
Above all remain professional. Do not get all emotional. Do not threaten us. Do not hang up at the first sign of conflict!
Remember you are in a “customer service industry”, and there is a lot of competition out there. As we said, we injured sods are walking ads! Every phone call should be dealt with in a professional matter, no matter what!
4. Please don’t raise your voice, don’t yell and don’t scream
Yelling, screaming, talking in a sarcastic tone or in a threatening tone is only going to irritate us, injureds, further, which will resolve nothing. If anything, you can get in trouble with your boss/team leader.
Don’t ever forget that many injured workers suffer from nasty and painful physical injuries, and that – most importantly- they have developed secondary nasty psychological/psychiatric injuries because of the way they are being treated by people like you!
Every day aworkcovervictimsdiary hears from injured workers who have had a “nervous breakdown” on the phone with their case manager, necessitating medical treatment; everyday we hear from injured workers being threatened and even locked up in a psych hospital by people like you, for no reason other than that you have absolutely no humanity, communication or people skills!
Remember that just about all workcover insurance companies record telephone conversations (for the famous “training” purpose), and if this discussion gets pulled for review, after we put in a formal complaint against you, you (the case manager) are going to look really stupid.
5. Please try your best not to argue
Your main goal here, dear case manager, is to calm a heated conversation AND to resolve the problem. A direct argument will usually not resolve anything. Please explain to the injured worker what is going on (with their claim), and what you (insurance) and they can do to help.
For example, It may be that a more detailed report from their doctor is the piece of evidence you need to complete your “review” or to make your “decision” about some “benefit”, then please tell the injured worker so s/he can organise and obtain that report!.
Please, dear case manager, remember at all times, that the injured worker does not have the experience that you do in “handling claims” day in and day out, so give them so rope and try to help them instead of just arguing points or talking jargon. This means avoid talking in legal terms or in claim lingo.
6. Empathise and apologise, show us you are human
And, dear case manager, ever thought about how you would feel if you were in the same situation? What would you want to be said to you to make you feel better when you were the frustrated caller?
injured workers simply want to know that you understand where they are coming from!
Many of us simply want acknowledgment from you or the workcover insurer that a mistake may have been made. If true please aplogise. If not ( entirely) true, please aplogise anyway for the confusion you cause the injured worker (again). An apology is the first step to overcoming our anger, rage, frustration etc and opening a dialogue about resolving the problem at hand.
7. Please, case manager offer us a solution to move forwards
We, injured workers, are coming to you with questions about our workcover claims, i.e.why a certain decision was made. Whatever the reason, please be human and explain to us what options we have for moving to the next level of resolving our claim problem(s), disputes etc. This means also please inform injured workers of their rights to appeal decisions, denied claims, rejected home help, physio, surgery etc and how they can appeal this.
A case manager is on the phone a big part of their day, every day. Conflict will arise and is unavoidable in the workcover claim world. But you have to be armed with the proper way to handle yourself on the phone. Implement the tips above, and hopefully you will be known around as a decent and human case manager.
[With thanks to workcovervictim for the bulk of the article/tips]